Uttar Pradesh Assembly witnessed angry exchanges between the government and the Opposition Thursday over the condition of sugarcane growers with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Khan accusing the previous BSP government of selling sugar mills at throwaway prices. High drama also ensued when BSP members walked out of the assembly as they were not satisfied with the state government’s response to BJP leader Shyamdeo Rai Chaudhary’s demand to waive the entry tax charged on natural gas (used in manufacturing urea).
Chaudhary had pointed out that in Uttar Pradesh, urea per sack cost Rs 100 more as compared to other states and this was because of the entry tax (ACTN). He said that in order to avoid this additional tax, consumers smuggle urea from states like Bihar, Uttarakhand and Haryana, which results in loss to the state exchequer.
In reply to the question, minister Vijay Bahadur Pal said the ACTN tax was imposed by the Centre, and alleged that it was more in case of UP, which led to the rise in the price of urea by up to Rs 50 to Rs 60 as compared to other states. Azam, on the other hand, said his party was “committed” towards solving the issues concerning the farmers.
Picking on Pal’s admission of the tax being as the reason for urea being costlier in UP, Leader of Opposition Swami Prasad Maurya questioned why the state government would not waive the tax in such a scenario. He added that the state government cannot escape from its responsibility by blaming the Central government for everything. Shortly after, BSP members walked out from the House, expressing dissatisfaction over the government’s reply.
Earlier, Dharampal Singh of BSP had asked a question on bank loans to the farmers hit by hailstorm. Maurya had alleged that the government was deceiving the farmers by not raising the state advised price for sugarcane for the past three years. “Our government led by Mayawati had substantially increased the price,” he pointed out.
Responding to Maurya’s charge, Azam said though sugarcane price was increased during the Mayawati rule, sugar mills were sold at throwaway prices, as a result of which there was no let up in the problems faced by the farmers.
Maurya retorted by informing that only those mills were sold that had been closed for 15 to 20 years, adding that the money earned was duly deposited in the treasury.
Khan said only a meagre amount was deposited while the real sum “went elsewhere” and accused the BSP government of being solely responsible for the plight of farmers, claiming that the party was “punished for it” by the people in the 2012 assembly elections.
Khan asked the BSP leader to go through the records to satisfy himself that maximum payments to the sugarcane growers were made by the present government of Akhilesh Yadav.
Maurya said while the Samajwadi Party government is siding with mill owners, the Mayawati dispensation had forced them (owners) to make payment and also sent some of them to jail.